Author Archives: jjrohner
And lastly….but not leastly….
Georgia/Florida 2007: “Celebrate Good Times, Come On!”
This hardly needs much explanation for those of us who’d been watching this series in recent years, but I couldn’t leave it out.
While we’re all very passionate about this game, I bet most of us would agree that there are few moments during football games where you laugh out loud. Football brings on a lot of emotion, but humor is rarely a part of the picture.
But then there was this moment. The penalty. Ask any Georgia fan and they’ll remember it with a laugh. Ask any Florida fan and you’ll likely find they’re still sore about it. But there it was, a first-quarter Knowshon Moreno touchdown, and suddenly the entire team was on the field, acting a though they’d just won a National Championship. Everyone in our section was puzzled, to say the least, wondering what had just happened and why. As we all began to figure it out, the quizzical looks turned to smiles, and before we knew it, the entire Georgia side of the stadium was erupting in laughs and cheers. Emphasizing the laughs.
A rather original way of revving up the team against their arch-rival, right? (Probably worth the yardage on the penalty!)
Georgia went on to get the win over Urban Meyer, Tim Tebow and the gang, 42-30 in one of the more spirited contests in the series history.
As for reliving the “celebration”, I have to say it never gets old…and never fails to make me smile..and then laugh!
So did I miss your favorite Georgia/Florida moment? Tell me about it!
Look out for more stories from this year’s game as they happen!
–Jennifer Rohner, Chief Cultural Correspondent
Here’s Part 2 in my Three-Part Series of Great Moments (at least for Georgia!) in Cocktail Party History. Enjoy!
GA/FL 1997: The Drought Ends! (Well, At Least for A Night….)
It was a game that CBS was reportedly reluctant to carry, as they were expecting a 20-point blowout and therefore a ratings disaster. It was a 20-point blowout, alright. It’s just that it didn’t go the way that was expected. Not by a long shot.
Georgia finally had their way with the seemingly unstoppable Gators after having dropped seven consecutive games in Jacksonville, beating them 37-17. It was a game they’d been picked to lose by 20 points. Only to win by….20 points.
Back then, beating Florida seemed like the lofty pinnacle that no Georgia squad would ever reach, the ultimate pipe dream. When the Steve Spurrier came to town in 1990 (or the “Evil Genius”, as he was often called), Georgia lost control of the series they used to own, and couldn’t buy a win for the next seven years. So this was an inspired win for the ‘Dawgs, a victory that revved up a fan base in a way that hadn’t been seen in Athens for many years. It was the only win that a Jim Donnan squad had over Florida. Best of all, it was the game that caused Steve Spurrier to say….
“They’re just better than us. That’s all you can say.”
(That quote rapidly sprung up on t-shirts all over Athens shortly thereafter.)
Sadly, the glory was short-lived, as the series would turn back to the Gators in 1998 and stay there for the next…six…years…..
But this night sure was special! Check it out! (And note some of the names on the field being mentioned, such as Mike Bobo and Kirby Smart…no need to look for them in the “Where Are They Now” files!)
NEXT: You Say You Want A Celebration?
–Jennifer Rohner, Chief Cultural Correspondent
Great Moments in Cocktail Party History, Part 1: 1985–The #1 Ranked Gators fall to Feisty Bulldog Squad (But The Goalposts Do Not!)
This is a special week every year for both Georgia and Florida Fans.
Both sides can say anything they want to about the rivalry, how it has been one-sided over the years, how other rivalries are bigger for both teams, how the series should or should not stay in Jacksonville. But I would bet that most of us who’ve actually attended this game know that there’s something enduringly special about the Georgia-Florida game. And no matter what kind of year either team might be having, it is inevitably a game to get up for. I’ve always thought of it as a bit of a gift to be a part of a school that has a rivalry so special that it has its own special venue, not to mention a title of its own (There are Iron Bowls Apple Cups, and Civil Wars out there, but how many other games are flat-out referred to as Parties?). I’ve always seen this game as a mid-season bowl, something extra special you get just for being a part of the Bulldog or Gator Nation. And there’s nothing quite like it in all of sports-dom, in my opinion.
This week I thought I’d take a break from my usual philosophical manifestoes and bring you some of the most interesting and fun wins Georgia has had over the last several decades. I’ve narrowed it down to three special games, ones that longtime fans may or may not remember but are worth revisiting. I hope that everyone enjoys this short series and maybe learns something they might not have known before (I know I did!).
So without any further ado, let’s get this (Cocktail) party started!
Georgia/Florida 1985–Georgia Topples #1 Ranked Florida (But Not The Goalposts…)
In the 70s and 80s, the Georgia/Florida series was well in the hands of the ‘Dawgs. It’s hard to imagine for those of us who came on board during the Spurrier era, but back then, Georgia was the “Monkey on the Back” of the Gators. But in 1985, things on the national stage were looking hugely promising for the Gators. Florida was for the first time ranked #1 in the nation and was seriously eyeing the National Title for the first time in their history. It seemed that the #17 Georgia Bulldogs didn’t really seem to pose much of a block on that road.
But then Game Day arrived, and the ‘Dawgs would not be denied.
Georgia handily defeated the Gators 24-3, a win that pretty well dashed the National Title shot for Florida (it went to Oklahoma that year). The Bulldog Dominance in the series would hold out for at least a few more years…. (that is, until Coach Spurrier would darken our doorstep five years later….).
And most likely to the chagrin of the Georgia fans who stormed the field that day, the goalposts stayed upright (thanks to the Jacksonville police).
Of course, Munson says it all better than I do….check it out!
NEXT: The Drought Ends…at Least for One Night!
–Jennifer Rohner, Chief Cultural Correspondent
The “Ides of October”: A Little Perspective and Seven Reasons Why This Season Can (and Should) Still Be Worthwhile
I haven’t written in a couple of weeks. And it is not because I haven’t had anything to say. It’s just that I, like everyone else, have been as disappointed and baffled since this month began. Call it the “Ides of October” if you will–I can’t explain the strange occurrences that have befallen Georgia any other way. It has been my goal over the last two weeks to take a few steps back try and make heads or tails of it all without getting too caught up in the heat of the moment, giving myself half a chance to find some meaning in everything that has happened.
So how am I doing with that?
I mentioned in my last article how I saw this season as a Hero’s Journey for our Dawgs, and therein I was cautious to note that while we’d faced a lot of challenges up to that point (just after barely emerging victorious from Tenneseee), I couldn’t say whether or not we’d actually hit the abyss, or the nadir (a word I’ve seen used in at least three different articles this week, one of which was written by our own Daniel Palmer–bravo for GRE words!) at that time.
Things did get worse, as we all know. The first home loss in 2 years. Special Teams mistakes costing us dearly and at most inopportune moments. Starters dropping like bowling pins. A loss to Vandy in Nashville, something that hadn’t happened since the first Bush administration. I can scarcely remember a Georgia team that came into the season with such high expectations and hopes only to have so much taken away from them (not even the pre-season #1 2008 squad could compare to this letdown). Heartbreaking, to say the least.
After the disaster last weekend, it was pretty easy to see what would come next. You didn’t need to dig too deep online to find the fan furor, and the degree to which it burgeoned was not just typical–it was pushing legendary. That, I fear, was what upset me the most, far worse than the loss itself. But after seeing post after post all over the virtual world about who was to blame, who needed to go, and how we would never win a National Championship with our current coaching staff, I’d had quite enough.
It is highly worth noting, of course that there were just as many messages out there of support and love for the program. I don’t deny this at all. It is is nearly always the case, though, that the “squeaky wheel” fan seems to command the most attention, sadly.
After nearly getting to the point where I wasn’t sure if I needed a bottle of Maalox or a bottle of Tequila, I had an epiphany: Spending any of my finite time on Planet Earth reading endless opinions of frustrated and (quite frankly) spoiled and insolent fans wasn’t going to change any game’s outcome, was not going to cheer me up any, and would definitely not contribute anything to help our team on down the road. There was no point in getting involved and trying to defend my beloved Dawgs against whiners who wouldn’t be happy unless we downed every gridiron foe 70-0. (These people would be well advised to revisit the ancient and timeless philosophy of Plato and the “Leaky Jar”, and probably wouldn’t be swayed by anything that the likes of I would have to say.) So I deemed it time to just let it all go. Nope, no more letting the internet trolls ruin my football season. Or anyone else, for that matter.
I don’t want anyone to think that I don’t understand what this program means or that I don’t want the best for our players. Believe me, I woke up last Sunday morning with a devastating hangover that had nothing to do with anything that came in a bottle. I’ve been a part of this community for a long time (as have many of you, no doubt), and I want a National Championship as much as anybody. Truly. And this year I thought, like many of us, that it just might come to be.
And then what happened? Ouch.
But folks, it’s time to stop complaining and start engaging. And start having some fun again this season. There are plenty of reasons why we should, too. Some might balk at my overly optimistic views right now, and they’re of course entitled to their opinion. But I have seven reasons why I’m going to live out the rest of this season a (reasonably) happy camper, come what may, and I’d invite you to join me. I give you this:
—Just because most (or rather, all) of our pre-season hopes are no longer mathematically possible does not mean that it is time to quit. It does not mean that there’s nothing left for us. Any time you have Florida, Auburn, and Georgia Tech on the road ahead automatically means there is plenty to play for. We shouldn’t even be bothering thinking about “next year” right now, either. All we have is this moment, this season, and five more games to play. No more. No less. Only complete losers would tank right now.
—We can’t be so self-centered as to think that we are the only one of over 100 D-1 football teams who set the lofty goal of an National Championship for the end of the year. Sure, we have the talent to win it all (when we’re full-strength, that is!). There’s no question about that. But are we the only ones with competent players? Are we the only ones with zealous and demanding fan bases? And are we the only ones looking to claim the ultimate prize, the likelihood of which hangs in the balance with every single snap of the ball? Of course not. At the beginning of the book “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince”, the Wizard Prime Minister visits the Muggle Prime Minister to warn him of the Dark Lord’s return. The Muggle minister, wondering why the wizards couldn’t just stop this Voldemort guy, asserted, “But for Heaven’s sake, you’re wizards! You can do magic! Surely you can sort out–well–anything!” to which the Wizard Prime Minister replied, “The trouble is, the other side can do magic too, Prime Minister.”
And if you were at the Mizzou game, you saw the opposition’s magic for yourself. I daresay Vandy brought some magic of their own last weekend. We were the antagonist in their stories of glory. Never a fun role to play. But it happens.
—Stop worrying about things that can’t be controlled. We can sit here and hope and pray that Mizzou loses three times. But let’s face it: it’s not likely. Sure, it would be great to have their “help” in getting back to Atlanta (not to mention getting everyone else in the SEC East to contribute to our cause) but it can’t be counted on. It never–and I mean NEVER–helps to spend your time worrying about what some other team is going to do unless you’re playing them. I say forget about Atlanta for right now. Just focus on the next game. Period.
–Be cautious of criticizing CMR too much. Most Georgia fans would agree that Vince Dooley was the best coach we’ve ever had. I’ll admit to being a big fan of his myself. But it shouldn’t escape anyone’s recollection that Coach Dooley was in charge for 16 years before winning his first–and only–National Title. It should also be noted that he probably “should’ve” had two if not three more National Titles (I often reference ’76, ’81, and ’82), and that his greatest success came largely with the presence of that once-in-a generation (if not once-in-a-lifetime) player, #34. So if you asked me, I’d say CMR isn’t too far off course when looking at the big picture.
–Think that 33 years is too long to wait for a National Title? Think again. Unless you’re Alabama, chances are that if you’re an SEC team you’ve been a bridesmaid for a very long time. LSU waited 45 years after their title in 1958 for their next one in 2003 (of course, they did have another in 2007, but one might argue that it was because of the ever-bizarre BCS computers that they as a two-loss team even got a shot at the title that year). Tennessee had a drought of 47 years between their big prizes in 1951 and 1998 (the 1967 National Title claim made by UT not being accepted by the major polls), and have had yet to make their case for a return to the top since the new millennium began. Then there’s Auburn, who waited a whopping 53 years between the titles of 1957 and 2010 (the latter being purportedly an ill-gotten gain, but that is another story…). So as you can see, except for a few institutions out there, this National Championship thing can be a little bit hard to come by. It’s a laudable goal, and it should be everyone’s at the beginning of the season, but if it doesn’t happen….there’s nothing else to do but finish the season try again next year. End of story.
–You have to be tough to love this game. Sometimes as tough as the players. I get how much it hurts to lose. But it is pretty obvious that losing is sometimes a result of playing! (That’s Vern and Gary logic for you, right? Ha!) So friends, don’t plan on being a fan if you can’t handle losing. It happens. Even to Nick Saban. Don’t be a wimp. Stop whining. And get back on the horse and stick with your team. They have to show up for the next game, so you should too.
–-And Most of All……We have a Cocktail Party to go to!! In case you had forgotten, next weekend there is a pretty big deal going on in Jacksonville. Personally, I couldn’t care less about the record of either team. When one has the chance to beat Florida, no matter what the landscape is for the rest of the season, get up for it. I can’t think of a better team to take out our frustrations on. And moreover, it’s….well, it’s the Georgia/Florida game! That ought to say it all…….(and I’ll be getting into this particular contest in a lot more detail next week, so stay tuned!)
So that’s that. A little of mathematical reality combined with a lot of optimism and a little gentle smack down. And a healthy dose of gratitude for Football and all of its lessons.
As Chris Conley so correctly Tweeted, “When someone asks you how you’re doing, reply ‘it’s the best day of my life’ because you are alive. Your outlook on life is all you control.”
And on that note, I intend to enjoy a bye week and watch some other teams get knocked around this weekend. And I strongly suspect that the Cocktails just might start flowing early this year!
Am I just too happy? Too dismissive of the facts? Or just giddy at the prospect of a beach weekend that I have taken leave of my senses? Let me know! Next week I’ll share some of my favorite Georgia/Florida experiences and classic moments (and I look forward to hearing about yours, too!).
–Jennifer Rohner, Chief Cultural Correspondent
The Georgia Bulldogs and the Power of Myth–What Joseph Campbell Might Say About The 2013 Season So Far
Jennifer Rohner stops by to set us all straight. Again.
What an outrageous ride the 2013 campaign has been already. No emotion has been left behind, neither for players, coaches, or fans, as it seems already we’ve experienced an entire decade’s worth of trial and vexation. Overall, we have managed to end up on the winning end of it all (at least in the big picture), but it hasn’t been cheap. It hasn’t been easy. And Lord knows it hasn’t been without its share of drama.
And although we (scarcely) emerged winners in last week’s cavalcade, it clearly wasn’t without great loss. Dear cost. We all know that.
Nothing tells a story about life like football. This season so far has been an epic journey with test after harshly demanding test, all of which we’ve been able to pass. So far.
Both breakdowns and breakthroughs alike have emerged that nobody could’ve foreseen. Who would’ve predicted six months ago that after the Tennessee game (which was supposed to be a cakewalk), we would barely be victorious while “Gurshall” (forgive me for saying it, gentlemen, just this once) would both be sidelined by rather haphazardly acquired injuries? Or that a freshman early enrollee would’ve emerged as a leading rusher in a monstrous away game? Or for that matter, that our usually “statuesque” QB would have in him a 57-yard run that nobody saw coming–at any point in any game? And not only that but also prove himself (finally) a “big game” QB, saving the day nearly every weekend? (Perhaps that one might’ve been the only one that could’ve popped up in anyone’s crystal ball, but still…)
The question remains…..with so many fallen warriors, as our own DYC fearless leader pointed out on Monday, it is easy for optimism to be replaced with fear, second-guessing, and doubt. Is it necessary to be concerned? Or are all of these debacles just a normal part of the life of a football season?
Well, I can’t say I remember the tests being as big as the stakes, not in any season in recent memory.
But I have to wonder….is Georgia being tested? Are they approaching a stretch of road that could challenge them not just externally but also to the deepest of their inner being? And is it all just another stop in the road to Greatness?
Or to put it another way, is this season simply a Hero’s Journey?
In epic tales of all kinds, there are moments where all seems lost, or at the very least fiercely uncertain. Take, for example, “The Empire Strikes Back”, in which Luke Skywalker faces the psychological challenges of overcoming his fear during Jedi training, loses his hand in battle, and finds out that the most evil dude in the galaxy far, far away is actually his father (and the one responsible for the loss of said hand!). Meanwhile his BFF Han Solo is lost to carbon-freezing, and the entire future of the Rebellion is called into question, even at movie’s end. Or how about “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix”, during which nobody believed Harry that the Dark Lord returned, murdered his friend, and almost murdered him too. He was mocked by his fellow students, smeared in the media, and thus began to doubt his own sanity while lashing out at his best friends….not to mention losing his Godfather.
Sure, I am exposing myself as a true science fiction cinema dork at this moment, (and granted things haven’t quite gotten that dire for the team) but these examples represent parts of the story structures that repeat themselves throughout books, film, and even real-life history. And I am beginning to wonder if this season’s path might be reflected in these and many other often-told allegories.
In this moment, I am looking to none other than Joseph Campbell for insight.
In the end, football is but a story. And very few literary analysts could break down stories and find their common threads quite like Joseph Campbell. His famous work “The Hero With a Thousand Faces” detailed in a comparative fashion the common themes in fictional works and how they all pretty well told the same tale. He called the repeating pattern “Monomyth”, (or, “one story”) and the concept has been rehashed and approximated by many other writers after him. However its general gist remains the same. A summary of the “Monomyth With A Thousand Variations” could be succinctly represented thus:
–The Hero’s Call to Adventure
–The Beginning of Transformation into the Unknown
–Challenges and Temptations
–Transformation and Atonement
–The Return (most often victorious)
Thinking about where Georgia has already been this season, are you seeing any parallels? I don’t know about you, but like no other season in my memory, this saga seems to be following the old familiar avenue of the quest for Greatness. We’ve certainly been called to action. No doubt after the Clemson game we were thrust into the valley of the unknown. While we had a convincing performance and relatively little setback during the South Carolina game, I don’t think anybody could’ve foreseen what was to happen next at LSU and Tennessee, so that takes care of the challenges part. Of course, at either of those junctures, our hopes for the season could’ve come completely unhinged, but somehow we’ve keep on rolling.
The question is: are we already at the Abyss? Are the scariest surprises behind us, or are there more slings and arrows headed our way? (And remember what the Abyss was for us last year? If you don’t, let this refresh your memory…)
And most importantly, can we handle it either way?
I say that is an absolute and heartfelt “yes”.
The truth: We don’t know what will happen next. We just don’t. (Just ask Phillip Fulmer.) All we can do is prepare the best way we know how and do the best we can in any given moment. Hackneyed, overstated, and said to oblivion, I know.
But, folks, it is the only way.
Of course, the tale unfolding before us isn’t written exclusively by man (as I am sure Coach Richt would agree) but in defining the possible outcomes, Mr. Campbell may be able to give us some ideas as to how it might turn out.
The team is demonstrating true grit these days. Quite frankly, there is a resolve and a drive I haven’t ever seen on a Georgia football team before, one that is elusive but to me is palpable. I have every bit of faith that no matter what happens these boys will never stop fighting.
Of course, all of the positive vibes, heartfelt affirmations, and magical mantras in the world don’t guarantee anything, either…..
Makes for high drama and intrigue, doesn’t it? Isn’t that why we love this game?
If that’s what we watch football for, we’ve certainly got it this year.
Call me a crazy football Pollyanna, but I couldn’t be prouder of what we’ve accomplished. And couldn’t be more intrigued to see what the story brings next.
I go to the opening monologue from my favorite football film, “The Blind Side” (yet another great example of a story with the Campbellian-like path), in which Sandra Bullock as Leigh Ann Tuohy professes,
“There’s a moment of orderly silence before a football play begins. Players are in position, linemen are frozen, and anything is possible.”
“Then, like a traffic accident, stuff begins to randomly collide.”
Does the Hero’s Journey always end in victory?
Depends on how you define “victory”. Personally, one way or the other, I expect nothing less from this team.
–Jennifer Rohner, Chief Culture Correspondent